Know Nothing: The true history of atheism


Michael Robbins

Is Richard Dawkins right that religion, specifically Christianity, “is a scientific theory,” “a competing explanation for facts about the universe and life”? Michael Robbins disagrees strongly. Robbins agrees with Nick Spencer, whose book Atheists: The Origin of the Species he reviews, that the idea is part of the myth central to New Atheism: the myth that modern atheism arose from a conflict between science and Christianity, in which the latter was shown woefully wanting in its explanation of natural phenomena. Modern atheism did not arise as a scientific or philosophic struggle against religion, explains Robbins, but rather as a political and social struggle.

Robbins’s article raises an important challenge to the work of the New Atheists, and also challenges Christians to better understand the history of both modern atheism and of the relationship of Christianity and science, in order to bring good news to what is becoming a dominant paradigm in our culture.

How does Robbins’s article challenge your understanding of the supposed conflict between science and Christianity?

If New Atheism amounts to a misunderstanding of the relationship between science and Christianity, and an ignorance of the history of modern atheism, how can Christians work to inform themselves and help others see these misconceptions?

Source: Slate

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